Political socialization is always a basic political issue. If philosophers have dreamed of manipulating education, power holders and social-political factions have attempted continuously to use education to achieve their ends or to perpetuate the values and institutions they upheld. Every political system that has existed anywhere, at any point in time, has been concerned with what kind of values and attitudes people were learning and, more importantly, how these affected behavior.
In ancient Greece and Rome, although there was no formal educational system for the masses of people, the various governments were deeply concerned with controlling the population. Civic religions, games, and family training all contributed to maintaining political continuity. In the Middle Ages the Church helped teach peasants proper political deference through emphasis on religious sanctions. Thomas Jefferson proposed a system of universal primary education to insure a population sufficiently educated to participate in public affairs and create an American republic of liberty. Throughout the nineteenth century in Europe and North America political reformers and civic leaders emphasized the need for widespread popular education to improve the position of the newly created industrial working class, but fought bitterly over who would control the content of education.
The Relationship Between Political Socialization And Political Life
Socialization is a political concern throughout the world. particularly during crisis periods or when old values and institutions appear to be weakened or in danger. Since World War II vocal and angry public debates have occurred in the United States, France, West Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere over whether the educational system and mass media were inculcating values necessary for national survival. In the twentieth century, particularly in totalitarian states, or in response to their challenge, mass education has been consciously and systemati-cally politicized. This is particularly true where the leadership attempts to control all social and cultural institutions, such as schools, clubs, and youth organizations.
This enables the government to insure that children will receive the same message of dedication and loyalty to the regime, while countering the possibility that families will teach or inculcate anti regime values. Such education emphasizes the child’s usefulness and duty to the country, rather than development of individual talents and potential as ends in themselves. In the Soviet Union, Lenin and Stalin emphasized the absolute necessity of teachers’ conforming to the regime’s values. Starling with virtually no school facilities and a largely passive and illiterate population. Soviet leaders created an educational system designed both to train effective workers and develop loyal citizens.
In the process of creating an advanced educational system, they employed formal methods, such as teaching history and economics from their ideological perspective, and informal methods, such as emphasizing cooperation and the individual’s duty to society, to instill loyalty and pride in the Soviet Union. In addition, Young Pioneer and Komsomal organizations provide out-of-school reinforcement.